Mystery surrounds how sensitive information belonging to members of the public, including bank details and photocopies of passports and driving licences, came to be in the hands of a Scarborough shopper.
The information was contained on a computer memory stick which John Bradley says he bought from Driffield electronics store Games-exchange, in Middle Street South.
Mr Bradley, of Princess Square in Scarborough’s Old Town, said: “I couldn’t believe it. I think what’s happened is the shop had been using it to store customer details, then they’ve put it down and someone has sold it on. But what would have happened if this fell into the wrong hands?”
Meanwhile, there are fears the information may have been stolen in a burglary at the shop premises in May.
Boss of the shop Jason Thacker said he was “astonished” that the shop could have sold such sensitive customer details.
He said the burglary happened overnight after thieves took out the back window, adding: “We don’t know exactly what was stolen apart from the till and a few other things, but there could have been a memory stick in the till.”
Police confirmed that an alleged burglary took place at the shop on May 29 May. A police spokesman said: “A large safe was attacked and force was clearly used to try and gain entry. The safe remained intact. Instead the offender took the till which had no money in it.”
But Mr Bradley said he was adamant that he bought the memory stick from the shop.
In addition to the photocopies, he said the card also contained the selling history of 63 customers, almost all from Driffield, along with their phone numbers, addresses and other personal data. It contained copies of around a dozen driving licences, one passport and three bank cards.
He added: “If I have your bank card, your phone number, your address and your purchase history with the dates of those purchases, I could phone you up and say I work for the store and there’s been a problem with the transaction and ask you for your three-digit card security code.”
One customer whose purchase history was saved to the memory stick was Janet Rae, who said: “Luckily my bank details were not disclosed, but if they were I would have been particularly alarmed.”
Humberside Police have now advised that if personal information is held on a memory stick it is good practice to password protect any documents so that if it is lost or stolen no one can easily access the information held.
A spokesman said: “The previous owner of this equipment can consider themselves very lucky that the new owner had no intention of using any of the data found on the memory stick to commit fraud.”